Thursday, February 10, 2011

DWF - Live!

It's time once again for the "live screening" blog. Here's how it works: I've got my laptop open while watching this week's short submissions. As the movie plays, I'll touch type my thoughts. At the end of each paragraph on the movie, I'll say whether I gave it a Must See, Second Look, or Pass.

It's important to remember that I'm not the only screener. My vote is not final. So if you think you recognize your work, the vote that follows is only one of many factors in the final decision.

I've edited for clarification after-the-fact. Those edits are in brackets.

Movie #1
Looks great. Nice subtle scare. Close and wide [that's a shot where the camera is close to the actor and the lens is wide angle, causing a fish-eye type effect]. Not the most flattering lens on the actress. Pace a smidge slow, but not horribly so. Cute ending at the right time. SECOND LOOK.

Movie #2
Looks international – I might not be able to read the screen and type. It's a dance piece. We've booked many dance shorts before, but FYI, just because we're "dances with films" doesn't mean we prefer dance movies. The performers are good – not great, but very good. Same for the filmmaking skills. It's a consider because it's short and so easily programmable – hey, them's the facts, folks. SECOND LOOK.

Movie #3
Terrible sound – badly looped dialogue [meaning the dialogue was recorded after the film was edited, and it doesn't sound like it's in the same room as the shot] – though, the foley is good. [Foley is sound added after editing for things like footsteps, props, etc. that were too far from the microphone in production and have to be sweetened. In this case, it might be foley, or it might be the mic was in a good place for the footsteps and a bad place for the voice – which would explain the looped dialogue.] About 3 minutes into the movie and nothing has happened that couldn't have been cut around. The dialogue is badly written and acted – the camera set-ups are flat and do nothing to help the actors ... and they could use all the help they can get. This is a one-joke movie that doesn't get to the point or the punch line until 15 minutes in. Painful to watch. PASS.

Movie #4
A Short Doc – always a strange combination, but I have seen some good ones. Nice professional set-ups for interviews, which helps people look like they know what they are talking about. The story is moving a smidge slow, but the music behind it has a driving beat. A narrator suddenly appeared. Would be nice if that voice opened the film so we would be comfortable with it when it's needed at this point. I hope this film gets in the festival, as I'd like to give the nurses a big hug and buy them all a drink. MUST SEE.

The other films are going to seem superficial after that.

Movie #5
Clever premise for a short, but I'm not sure I'm connected to it. Something about this little film lays flat, and I hate that I can't put my finger on what it is. Maybe my brain is just tired. SECOND LOOK.

Movie #6
Dystopian Future – very big in the publishing world these days, though Kevin Costner might have killed the genre in film [The Postman, Waterworld]. Good cast. Good direction. Okay script. Movies like this are hard to call – not a stand out, but very solid. Have to wait to see how the submissions round out to see if it makes the cut. SECOND LOOK.

All of these Second Look movies are exhausting – Great movies are easy to judge. Bad ones are painful, but require no thought. The ones in between are killers.

Movie #7
Again, bad acting not helped by bad filmmaking skills and bad dialogue. Well, I wanted a movie that was easy to judge. Should have been more careful what I wished for. 23 minutes of hell. PASS

"A Florida State Movie next?" our DVD loader asks after that horrible film. We set aside some films we think might be good for just such emergencies. Music videos are reserved to cleanse the palette after long, slow, shorts.

Movie #8
Good filmmaking in all departments, but again, something is missing here. There's no pop. I think this filmmaker is so enamored of the style of film he's working in that he hasn't made it his own. There's nothing new here. In this genre there's a requirement to do something so cool that it knocks the viewer's head back. My head is firmly in place – even though the movie is very well done. SECOND LOOK.

Movie #9
Animation. Fun! Delightfully kid-spooky. Good way to end the night. MUST SEE.

There you have it. Inside the head of a Dances With Films submissions screener – and just in case some future digital archeologist digs this up, there is no sign of the Army of the 12 Monkeys... yet.

Thanks for reading.

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